August 30, 2017 at 10:09 am EDT | by Michael K. Lavers
Karen Keys-Gamarra elected to Fairfax County School Board

Frederick County School Board, transgender students, gay news, Washington Blade

Karen Keys-Gamarra on Aug. 29, 2017, won a special election to fill a vacancy on the Fairfax County School Board.

Karen Keys-Gamarra on Tuesday won a special election to fill a vacancy on the Fairfax County School Board.

Keys-Gamarra, who was endorsed by the Fairfax County Democratic Committee, defeated Chris Grisafe and Michael Owens. She will succeed Jeanette Hough, who resigned earlier this year after her husband accepted a job overseas.

“Karen is a long-time ally of LGBTQ people, and we look forward to her being a leading voice in making progress in such things as regulations designed to support students in social transition in schools, and health benefits for LGBT employees,” said FCPS Pride, a group that represents LGBT employees of the Fairfax County School District, in a statement. “In the broader scope, Karen will advocate strongly for all students in FCPS.”

Keys-Gamarra’s election comes less than five months after the Virginia Supreme Court dismissed a lawsuit that challenges the inclusion of sexual orientation and gender identity in the Fairfax County School District’s nondiscrimination policy.

Gavin Grimm in 2015 filed a federal lawsuit against the Gloucester County School Board’s policy prohibiting students from using bathrooms and locker rooms that don’t correspond with their “biological gender.” Grimm, who graduated from Gloucester County High School in June, earlier this month withdrew his request for an immediate injunction against the regulation.

FCPS Pride in its statement described Keys-Gammara’s victory as “bittersweet for our community,” noting earlier on Tuesday it “learned of a girl in another part of Virginia who learned from her school that she will be forced to change for gym in the nurse’s bathroom, and will banned from the same facilities as other girls, just because she is transgender.”

“We have avoided these draconian policies in Fairfax, but it underscores just how tenuous our victory is,” said FCPS Pride. “The need for progressive and sympathetic leaders at the state and federal level has never been more clear.”

Michael K. Lavers is the international news editor of the Washington Blade. Follow Michael

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